A Union army under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had moved via the Tennessee River deep into Tennessee and was encamped.
Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnson was considered by Confederate President Jefferson Davis to be the finest general officer in the Confederacy before the emergence of Robert E. Lee, he was killed early in the Civil War at the Battle of Shiloh (interesting story of how he died – see Characters tab) and was the highest ranking officer, Union or Confederate, killed during the entire war. Davis believed the loss of Johnston "was the turning point of our fate".
Confederate forces under Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard launched a surprise attack on Grant there. The Confederates achieved considerable success on the first day, but were ultimately defeated on the second day.
On the first day of the battle, the Confederates struck with the intention of driving the Union defenders away from the river and into the swamps of Owl Creek to the west, hoping to defeat Grant's Army of the Tennessee before the anticipated arrival of backups. Grant’s men however fell back to the northeast, in the direction of Pittsburg Landing, as opposed to the swamps in the west.
Union reinforcements arrived in the evening and turned the tide the next morning. When a Union counterattack was launched the Confederates were forced to retreat from the bloodiest battle in US history up to that point.
This ended Confederate hopes of blocking the Union from advancing into Northern Mississippi.
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